14 Sept 2011
Personal Essay 450-500 words
She used to be all there, nice and neat, until pieces of her started disappearing. I don’t know where she has gone or even if she will be back. Some parts of her are still here, but many are drifting. I can actually control some of her pieces, and I keep them close, so they don’t all leave with the rest. Her name was My Plan.
I have always had a plan - I am a world class planner. My Plan has dramatically changed though, and it will never be the same because I am currently battling leukemia. Being a very driven person with a strong work ethic, I had planned to take six classes, three being AP. I have never wanted to just take the easy classes: I want to challenge myself, go the extra mile, and do my best on everything. Instead of challenging myself with hard classes, I was being challenged by my doctor and school principal telling me I would only be able to take the one and a half classes that are required for me to graduate. This was certainly not a part of My (initial) Plan.
My Plan was complete with everything I needed to succeed, but it was missing obstacles.The timing of this new life-changing illness baffles me; however, in spite of my confusion, I trust that something positive is coming out of having leukemia. Taking things day by day and keeping a positive attitude helps tremendously. I tell myself that everything will be okay. This may not be a part of My Plan, but it is a part of God’s Plan, which is far better than anything I could ever map out. In fact, despite all the negative things about having cancer, I am already discovering some positive things about myself. This experience is giving me a courage and strength I never thought I could possess.
I have begun to formulate a New Plan. She is similar to My (previous) Plan in that she has the same career goals, family goals, and religious goals, but this one is more flexible and open to change. With her, I am learning that if I look at the big picture and realize that this dimension will only be two and a half years out of my entire life, I know I will be okay.
In essence, I am a planner going through a tough struggle at a very inconvenient time in my life. My approach to the struggle is that this is going to be a positive element in my life.
Living each day as it could be the best day is the New Plan, and I accept it with determination and a positive outlook.
August 19, 2010
Are You Wealthy?
In my opinion, there are two types of wealth. There is spiritual wealth and there is materialistic wealth. Spiritual wealth means being a compassionate, selfless person, who has a strong relationship with family, friends, and God. Materialistic wealth is having a lot of material things and money. I believe that I am defiantly spiritually wealthy. Spiritual wealth is all in my life. I wake up in the morning to a loving family, I come to school and see my friends who I can trust and depend on, I see my encouraging teachers. I then go home at night and have a devotion and pray to God about my struggles and the goodness in my life. These relationships that I have with my family, friends, teachers, and God give me spiritual wealth. Materialistically, I am certainly no Bill Gates, but my parents do have the financial resources to provide my sister and I with a nice house, a private education, food, clothes, and many more things. I consider this wealthy because many people only dare to dream to have the things I have. In essence, I am materialistically and spiritually wealthy. I am thankful for the material things that I have, but I do not feel that my life revolves around the “stuff.” I feel like my life revolves more around school, family, friends, and God. Even though I am materialistically wealthy, I think I do have more spiritual wealth.
So, is one type of wealth better than the other? I think spiritual wealth is certainly better than material wealth. In the book No Impact Man, Colin Beavan lived without as many material things, and as a result, this increased his spiritual wealth. He had no TV, he could not buy anything new, he had no electricity, and many more. Living without these material things, gave him more time to spend with his family, which strengthened his relationship with them. This is a good example of someone who recognized material wealth was not near as important or even necessary at all to achieve spiritual wealth. Now, do not get me wrong, material wealth is not always a bad thing. Having material wealth (money) allows my sister and I to attend GPS. I think getting an education and applying the education to your life has the potential to lead a person to spiritual wealth. I have certainly learned things at GPS that have made me a more compassionate person, a more spiritually wealthy person. So, sometimes material wealth can lead to spiritual wealth. It works the other way around too. Spiritual wealth can lead to material wealth. The point when material wealth becomes a problem is when it consumes your life.
Who is the most wealthy person in the world? The person who has achieved spiritual excellence. They are spiritually well rounded.
Senior Chapel Talk
Cross country is a sport where trails are encountered several times a week. The team runs for miles on these beaten paths filled with winds and turns. Occasionally, we hop over fallen limbs, duck under tree branches, and make our way around big rocks. But no matter what obstacle we might come across, the trail still goes on, mile after mile. Even when we get caught in a hole, we know we must get back out and keep on going. We do not let the rough spots ruin the run.
Since May of 2011, the hills on my trail have seemed rather large and never ending. After having a fever for over a week and noticing some spots on my skin, my doctor referred me to the cancer and blood disorders clinic at TC Thompson Children's Hospital at Erlanger. The night before my appointment, my mom told me to pack a bag in case I have to get admitted. I thought she was just being weird because in my mind there was no way anything that serious could be wrong with me. I mean I am a healthy athlete. I thought, it is just a virus.
I was wrong.
Later that week I was diagnosed with a very rare disease called autoimmune mylofibrosis. The doctor put me on some a low dose steroids, but then a bone marrow test in June was completely normal. I was now in total remission and completely off the medicine.
August 1 was the start of the much anticipated cross country camp that I had been looking forward to all summer. I boarded the bus and made my way to Gatlinburg with the team. Then on August 2 I noticed pain and swelling in one of my toes. I had gotten a fever and an infection in the toe, so my mom picked me up, called the doctor, and I was directly admitted to TC Thompson.
This time I knew there could be something really bad going on with my body.
After many medical tests and a week in the hospital, I was told I had acute lymphoblastic leukemia. At this point on my trail, I have to admit I thought I was on such a big hill there was a moment when I didn’t know if I will ever make it over.
Since my leukemia diagnosis on August 8, I have been in the children’s cancer clinic at least once a week for chemo, blood products, and counts. I have been to the ER twice, once by ambulance, for stroke like symptoms caused by my chemo, I have been transferred to the pediatric intensive care unit, and I have been admitted to the hospital seven times since my diagnosis.
I’ve had to become pretty philosophical about this run and stay positive no matter how rough my trail has become.
Maybe that’s something we all need to remember. We have to stay strong and win our battles no matter how tough the trails. And, you know, life goes on, just like the trail, no matter how steep it becomes and you really have remind yourself to find peace and happiness regardless what you see in front of you.
But I feel a little stuck right now in one of those holes, but I am going to be strong and courageous and pretty soon I am going to get out.
On this run, I am not simply choosing life, I am living it to it’s fullest through my struggle.
“My trail is fresh, peaceful, and smooth.”
- Christian Bryant
*Christian was never able to give her Chapel Talk, I recently found her draft, that was last edited by her at the end of February 2012. Randy Tucker, the Headmaster at Girl's Preparatory School shared her words May 2, 2013 during a special Assembly.